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Thread: First time to Italy in May

  1. #1
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    Default First time to Italy in May

    Hi everybody. Great website you have here and I have been reading to get as much information as possible. Just wish to get some specific help from you guys regarding the stay in Tuscany.

    My wife and I are planning a trip to Italy in the first two weeks of May. We will be staying 14 nights, not including the days we are flying in. The itinerary we have in mind is such :

    Rome(4 nights)
    Tuscany countryside (3 nights)
    Florence (3 nights)
    Cinque Terre (3 nights)
    Milan ( 1 night)

    We will fly in to Rome, and fly out of Milan, probably. A few questions regarding this plan :

    1. We are planning for 3 nights in the countryside. If we were to change it to 2 nights, would it be too short? The main aim of staying there is to enjoy the countryside stay, explore the landscape, take photos, also I'll probably rent a car to explore the nearby towns, but not go too crazy trying to see every single thing. Thing though is that in my country is a right-hand drive, whereas over there is left-hand drive.

    2. If we stay in countryside house with the hosts, will the hosts cook meals and we don't have to find other places to eat? Or if they have restaurants near where we are staying, it will be great as well. We also wish to have cooking classes, maybe. I heard that in May there wont be any olive or grape harvest, so we won't be able to participate in that?

    3. We do have dietary restrictions, for example we don't eat beef. Would the hosts be offended by that, and maybe in that case a farmstay might not be suitable for us? Unless we get our meals outside, which then won't be a problem.

    4. I would also love to take photos like the first one in this link: http://www.discovertuscany.com/tusca...n-tuscany.html
    The cypress trees with the winding roads. Is it in Val d'Orcia? And also Podere Belvedere, which I think is very popular.

    Hope to get some help regarding these, and also if you have any further suggestions to tweak my trip, or anything else I should consider, it would be greatly appreciated!
    Last edited by shank; January 12, 2018 at 04:42 AM. Reason: Driving info

  2. #2
    Lourdes's Avatar
    Lourdes is online now Administrator - DiscoverTuscany Team
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    Hello and welcome to our forum! Glad to hear you're finding the site and info helpful, we hope we can always offer useful suggestions! ;-)

    I would vote for 3 nights in the countryside over just 2, gives you more time to soak in the atmosphere. Also to get used to the driving. I agree with taking things slowly, not trying to get everything in and enjoying what you do see as much as possible.

    Your division of days seems good!

    Farm "stays" can be either in rooms where the hosts offers meals (they are often listed as B&Bs and will include breakfast with your room) or in private apartments/suites that contain small kitchen/kitchenette so that you have your own independence as far as some meals go. By default, the apartments don't include breakfast. Many have a restaurant on the premises and that's when you can have the best of both worlds: if you have a room, you can choose to have more meals there or if in an apartment, you can cook in for a meal or two, have a dinner at the restaurant or go out to a local restaurant. Keep in mind many now are like hotels specialized in offering vacation rentals, with their wine or olive oil production as another side of the business but as a guest you are not in any way tied to that side of the estate. With just 3 nights, you might not cook at all but an apartment can offer more space for a very similar cost.

    Don't worry about being vegetarian, there are many options offered in Tuscan cuisine that don't include meat.

    And as far as photos go, you will be able to take lots of those photos if you roam around the countryside and enjoy the surroundings. That first photo is actually of Montefioralle, we took it walking out of the small medieval hamlet towards Badia di Passignano (another photo worthy view) and looking back down on the town.

    So here are some of my suggestions as to places to stay, considering your time and requests:
    1. Casolare di Libbiano: has rooms and offers meals on site. It has cooking classes too, so you can have all you're looking for.
    2. Villa il Poggiale: also has a restaurant for guests and offers cooking classes.
    3. Tenuta Quadrifoglio: both rooms as well as apartments
    4. Le Torri: just apartments, no restaurant but is walking distance from a few in the town nearby
    5. Il Cellese: apartments with restaurant on site

    All are in the countryside between Florence and Siena, so with lots of opportunities to do day trips in area, lots of spots for great photo ops and choice of meals on site or nearby.

    Let us know what you think of these and whether you want more suggestions ;-).
    Where to stay in Tuscany? Read this if you will have a car and this if you won't!
    When is the best time to visit? Make sure to read this!

  3. #3
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    Wow thanks for that very detailed reply. I agree and have decided that 3 nights would be better to enjoy the experience.

    I think what I would prefer are the room type of accommodations with breakfast included, and also maybe a restaurant on site or in a nearby town. Also, my apologies for not updating but after having done more research I think I would like to stay in the Val d'Orcia region, like between Pienza, montalcino etc. Those houses you linked are all in the Chianti region, which I guess you chose because of my earlier preference for that photo. Im sorry for the wasted effort in finding those places for me! Would something like La Fonte be good? However, they dont seem to accept a few nights stay in May, so I have to contact them personally to check.
    Edit: Are the type of places that I prefer called agriturismo? Im not sure I understand exactly what you mean by rooms and apartments, but it's basically a difference between breakfast/meals being provided versus cooking your own food, if I understand you correctly? We definitely won't be cooking our own, exceot for the cooking class.

    Oh we arent exactly vegetarian. We just dont eat beef, but other meat like chicken, lamb, bacon, ham we are fine with. Fish as well but I'm not sure if this region has seafood.

    One question on the car rental. Where do you suggest I rent the car from, given the order of cities/regions we are going to? Or should I change the order to Rome-Florence-Tuscany-CT? That would involve some backtracking, which is why I settled on thw original itinerary, but unsure of whether I should drive up from Rome, or take a train to Siena or Florence and then drive down? If im staying in Chianti maybe tbat would be okay, but if im staying further south then it wouldnt make sense right?

    By the way, I would love to see the stars and the Milky Way at night. Having lived in a bright city all my life, ive only ever seen the milky way when i travelled to another country with very little light pollution. Would I be able to see it in the tuscan region?d
    Last edited by shank; January 15, 2018 at 01:42 PM.

  4. #4
    Lourdes's Avatar
    Lourdes is online now Administrator - DiscoverTuscany Team
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    You most certainly can enjoy the night sky once you're in the countryside away from any of the towns.

    As far as the type of place you're interested in, you WILL find it marked as agriturismo regardless of whether they just offer rooms or apartments. The main difference in the two is the amount of space you have, in addition to having a kitchen or not. If you're not interested in the kitchen but want more space, you can still rent an apartment, knowing you won't use the kitchen ;-) But then just look for a place that offers breakfast as a possibility which normally is possible if they have a restaurant or offer meals to their clients (some only serve meals to guests and not open to public, others are open to the public).

    Another factor to consider is that many of the agriturismo that rent by the room allow stays of a few nights while the ones with apartments will sometimes require a whole week. So choosing a bedroom type accommodation is super fine. You will find these also labeled as "bed and breakfasts" so you have to keep your search wide for now: look for both agriturismo and bed and breakfasts with rooms.

    If you want to stay in the Val d'Orcia area, I would suggest a little bit of backtracking just for practical reasons:
    - take train up from Rome to Florence, do Florence first
    - then rent car out of Florence and do southern Tuscany. You will enjoy the drive down and see Chianti too as you head down, if you wish.
    I would suggest on the day you drive down, to pass through Chianti and make stops along the way. See the small hilltop towns, maybe make your way to San Gimignano, then head down.
    Then a whole day to explore the towns in Val d'Orcia (Pienza, San Quirico, Montalcino, Montepulciano)
    A whole day in Siena.
    - drive north to Cinque Terre... Monterosso al Mare is a great place to get to with a car, the best of the five towns, just look for a place that offers parking. We stayed here last April and loved it: https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/9981395
    - drive north to Milan and drop off car. The reason why I would suggest keeping car to CT and Milan is because trains in between Val d'Orcia and Ct and then Milan are not direct, requires various connections and make travel longer. So you can save time in travel (although you do spend in car rental. Take a look and see what makes more sense to you).

    As far as places to stay in as far as Val d'Orcia goes, I see many on here: http://www.tuscanyaccommodation.com/...nd-breakfasts/
    that would be appropriate - don't go by the name but whether they have rooms ;-)
    Where to stay in Tuscany? Read this if you will have a car and this if you won't!
    When is the best time to visit? Make sure to read this!

  5. #5
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    Thanks once again for the extremely helpful reply! One of the best forums around.

    I understand what you mean now, about the rooms and apartments difference. I shall definitely take a look and research on those that you linked. I would love to find one where you can have a nice view over the fields and can enjoy sunrise or sunset from there. Of course I would want to travel out on the roads to capture some of the lovely mist. That would mean I have to set out pretty early before sunrise, right?

    After some more contemplation, we have decided that there's no point in heading to Milan just for one night, as it is mainly just to catch a flight, because we have found that we have flights from Pisa airport. Therefore, we can travel from CT to Pisa on the last day to catch an evening flight. That train ride is slight more straightforward isn't it? I might take your suggestion on driving to CT as well, just that I've heard it's really difficult to drive there.

    Also, this would mean that we have one extra night to spend somewhere else in these regions. In your opinion, do you think this extra night would be better spent in Florence, Val D'orcia or CT?

    As for renting from Florence, is there a link describing the ZTLs in detail? I wouldn't want to leave the rental office in the city and get caught driving into one.

  6. #6
    DonnaDenise is offline Super Moderator - DiscoverTuscany Team
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    Default Val d'Orcia

    Buongiorno,

    so easy to skip over the area of Val d'Orcia but it is loaded with wine, scenery and local flavor.


    Especially the Maremma area will surprise you:
    https://www.discovertuscany.com/mare...itinerary.html
    https://www.discovertuscany.com/itin...wine-road.html

    or

    absolutely amazing:
    https://www.discovertuscany.com/mare...ighlights.html

    Buon Viaggio,
    Donna Denise

  7. #7
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    Hi Donna,

    Not sure if I understood you correctly, but I'm not planning to skip over Val D'Orcia. In fact, I plan to explore the Val D'Orcia region with the car, but not too sure if I'll head to Maremma. Might not have enough time for that.

    Dear Lourdes, hope to hear from you regarding my doubts in the last post. Also, I've been looking at the Tuscany Accommodation website, but have not found certain places I have come across in Google Maps, like Poderino, Terrapille, Santa Maria, etc, which are actually in the Val D'Orcia region.

    Podere Cunina seems nice, but further away in Buonconvento area. It is also in the Crete Senesi area, which I assume will be more gray because of the clay? Not very sure as to where exactly Val D'Orcia begins, with the green hills, as opposed to the clay of Crete Senesi, or is it sort of the same area?

  8. #8
    Lourdes's Avatar
    Lourdes is online now Administrator - DiscoverTuscany Team
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    Hello Shank!

    If you have found flights from Pisa, then yes, definitely that is way much more convenient than heading to Milan to just catch the flight out.

    Driving in CT is tough because roads are narrow and there are lots of curves -- so you can drive there and out, but I would not recommend it for moving around between the towns. That is why I was recommending Monterosso as a good base: easier to get to and to find parking, but once you're there the car is parked and you move around the towns via train and walking.

    For that extra night, I would suggest Val d'Orcia. 3 nights will be more than sufficient for CT already.

    The difference between Val d'Orcia and Crete Senesi is quite narrow as there are many overlaps. We have stayed at San Giovanni in Poggio which is technically in the Crete Senesi (you can see Siena from the garden!) and gone around the entire area - as well as visited Podere Cunina. Both are closer to Buonconvento, right along what is the "boundary" between the two. I would say both offer views of what you consider typical of Val d'Orcia: rounded hills covered with grain, green in spring and yellow in late summer. You most definitely need to be out early to see early mists like in postcards. The clay we found is more northern that both, closer to Siena.

    As for driving in Florence, most definitely make sure you read this on the ZTL:
    http://www.visitflorence.com/tourist...-ztl-zone.html
    Generally, driving out you just have to make sure you don't make a wrong turn and head back in, since that will be considered already on your rental time and no longer a concern for the rental agency (who just reports when you go in to the ZTL to return a car to their location).
    Where to stay in Tuscany? Read this if you will have a car and this if you won't!
    When is the best time to visit? Make sure to read this!

  9. #9
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    Hi Lourdes! I posted a reply earlier but I'm not sure why it didn't show up. Anyway, thank you for those links! The thing is, is there a website or somewhere (not sure if I can trust Google Maps) to show the exact route I should take if I rent the car from Borgo Ognissanti? I've read somewhere else they have changed the directions around there so it's different now..etc? Can't seem to find the link now.

    I hear you about the extra night in Val D'Orcia and is something I would love to do as well.

    Podere Cunina seems like an option now as well, sometimes it's not too good to have too many choices

    About Monterosso, I was thinking that the drive to get there itself would be difficult, but I guess I'm mistaken. Thank you once again!

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